Brooklyn-based hip-hop group Bathe has been busy the past few days: not only did it warm up the stage for fellow Brooklynite and friend Triathlon at Strawberry Fest on Friday, but it also released its debut EP “I’ll Miss You” the same day.
Made up of rapper/singer Devin C. Hobdy and producer, guitarist and bassist Corey Smith-West, Bathe blends elements of rap, chillwave, jazz, funk and indie to create a unique and sonically satisfying listen. The release consists of seven beat-heavy songs chronicling the band’s first few months of living in New York City following their graduation from the University of Pennsylvania.
“The end of college was a big transition time,” Smith-West said. “Different relationships ended, different family members had gotten sick. We would stay up all night writing these songs, talking about our lives and just processing the things that were happening to us.”
The duo — which draws influence from artists ranging from D’Angelo to Solange — hasn’t always called Brooklyn home. Bathe formed five years ago when Hobdy and Smith-West were in college.
After graduation, the duo moved to Brooklyn initially to pursue internships. Hobdy worked on producing music while Smith-West wrote for an esteemed music publication in Manhattan. However, it didn’t take long for him to realize that he would rather be performing his own work instead of writing about others’.
“The more I wrote, the more I wanted to be on stage,” Smith-West said. “The more I wrote, the more I wanted to produce.”
Smith-West now lives in the same neighborhood his parents grew up in — Bedford-Stuyvesant — a coincidence that brought him back to his roots. As his mother and father lived in Brooklyn during the advent of hip-hop, much of the soul and hip-hop music that Smith-West grew up listening to came directly from the borough.
“My mom was like, ‘Wow, I worked so hard for us to get out of Brooklyn just for you to move back in,’” he said with a laugh. “She didn’t see a problem with it, she was just trying to get that American Dream set up for us.”
During its formative years, Bathe went through several iterations and band members. Hobdy and Smith-West have a hard time putting their fingers on exactly when Bathe as it is known today formed. Smith-West admits that being a musical collaborator with your best friend isn’t always the easiest job.
“Being straight up, there are some days when you have to stop being someone’s musical partner and start being their best friend,” Smith-West said. “Sometimes you have to take a breather. Hobdy has taught me to not be not be afraid — to be honest and vulnerable. There are days where you just have to be honest.”
The new EP, “I’ll Miss You,” is truly a memento for Bathe. It is a capsule of a transitional period of self-discovery, self-awareness and self-creation. Only time will tell how the band will grow. Yet, Smith-West says the band is not as interested in what could be as the present and relishing the moment.
“The EP name ‘I’ll Miss You’ is about being one step away from the present,” Smith-West said. “It’s not being able to embrace the moment because you’re thinking about the future. The EP is about being in the moment and finding beauty in the present.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 6, 2019, print edition. Email Nicole Rosenthal at [email protected]